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FROM the anniversary of the Everest climb to airways that charge per weight, the release of films that put tourism on the map and lots of travel awards, 2013 has brought a range of tourism experiences to the Asia-Pacific region. 


Qantas Airways passengers between Cairns and Port Moresby watched a large python clinging to the wing of a plane during a two hour flight in January. Unfortunately the three metre snake was dead on arrival. Read more.

The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) held its annual tourism conference in Laos in January with a focus on the development of eco-tourism in the region. The host country, itself underdeveloped and therefore quite unspoiled, plans to develop sustainable practices and become a player in nature tourism. Read more.

McDonalds agreed to let some of its Australian operations change the name of the popular family restaurant to Maccas, in honour of the popular slang term used in the country. The change was only evident over the Australia Day period but had American reporters asking questions. Read more here.


It may have been Valentines Day around the world on February 14, but in Japan they actually celebrate this exactly one month later and call it White Day, an observance day when women give chocolate to men and they return the favour. It's not the only interesting observance in Japan. There are 15 such days in the annual calendar. Click here to read more.


TripAdvisor's list of the world's top 25 destinations highlighted eight diverse locations in the Asia Pacific for their culture, style, food and nightlife. Among them were Sydney, Bangkok, Queenstown and Shanghai. To see which other places ones made the cut read more here.

[caption id="attachment_32585" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Chiang Mai, Thailand. Pic: AP."][/caption]


Samoa Air became the first airline in the world to introduce pay by weight tickets for its international flights with prices determined by the weight of the passenger and their bags. Previously the airline had introduced the same system for its domestic flights. No one has refused to be weighed yet. Islands in the Pacific have the highest rates of obesity in the world. Read more.


Nepal celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest on May 29. The achievements of Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa were honoured by Mount Everest Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Kathmandu and at a party under the shadow of the mountain itself. However many fear their success has created an industry that is now ruining the peak. Read more.

[caption id="attachment_32578" align="aligncenter" width="552" caption="A photo taken on May 23, 2013 of mountaineers on the summit of Mount Everest. Photo: AFP"][/caption]

The capsule hotel experience in Japan swings to the fore, reducing the hotel world to a miniature version. Read more.

[caption id="attachment_32574" align="aligncenter" width="601" caption="Capsule hotel rooms. Pic: AP."][/caption]


Peter Jackson's first installment of The Hobbit trilogy begins to make an impact with tourism to Middle Earth, aka New Zealand, after its release in December 2012. Figures released by Tourism New Zealand showed international visitors to New Zealand rose 10 percent between January and April in 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. Their survey also showed 8.5 percent of visitors listed the movie as one of their traveling reasons and 13 percent took part in hobbit-themed tourism like visiting a film set.  Read more.


TripAdvisor listed the world's top 25 landmarks of which five were in Asia including Angkor Wat and the Taj Mahal. Read more.


[caption id="attachment_32584" align="aligncenter" width="599" caption="Angkor Wat Photo: Luciano Mortula, Shutterstock."][/caption]


Condenast's Readers' Choice Surveyranked Asian cities among the world’s friendliest. Seven out of the top 10 cities were in the Asia-Pacific and included Hobart, Thimpu, Queenstown, Paro, Margaret River, Mandalay and Ubud. Read more.

[caption id="attachment_32580" align="aligncenter" width="599" caption="Hobart. Pic: cntraveler.com"][/caption]


Burmese icon and ‘Moustache Brother’ Par Par Lay passes away after an illness, a huge blow not only to the transition to democracy in Burma/Myanmar but also to tourists who made the nightly trek to Par Par Lay's house to see him perform, along with other members of his comedic trio. Read more.

[caption id="attachment_32573" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="From left to right: Lu Maw, Par Par Lay and Lu Zaw. Pic: From the Facebook Page for the Moustache Brothers."][/caption]

Thailand considers introducing compulsory travel insurance for foreign visitors, partly thanks to the burden of costs in treating foreign visitors, some who can not or do not pay their hospital bills. The 500 baht insurance package was proposed as a way to combat these costs. Read more.


Tokyo is awarded the 2020 Olympics to cheers of "Banzai" as Japan outdid rivals Istanbul and Madrid. Despite the recent nuclear disaster Tokyo clearly won the final round with strong public support. Read more here and here.

[caption id="attachment_32577" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Japanese celebrate after Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics Games, in Tokyo early Sunday morning, Sept. 8, 2013. Photo: AP."][/caption]


Lonely Planet releases its lists of best in travel for 2014 featuring locations from across Asia in categories such as where to feel like one of the family, best beaches and small islands, best adventure travel and best honeymoon locations. Read more.


Sydney hosts the International fleet review, drawing thousands of spectators to the famed habour, including Prince Harry, for a feast of warships, cruisers and destroyers. Read more.

[caption id="attachment_32576" align="aligncenter" width="512" caption="Australian warships HMAS Perth sails past the Opera House as she arrives in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 during the International Fleet review. The Fleet Review is a commemorative event celebrating the centenary of the first entry of the Royal Australian Navy's fleet into Sydney Harbour on Oct. 4, 1913.(AP Photo/Rob Griffith)"][/caption]

Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines bringing widespread and horrific destruction, however the Department of Tourism issued a statement to encourage tourists not to cancel their plans as many places remain unaffected and resorts and areas that rely on tourism have been hit by 30-40 percent cancellation rates. Read more here and here.

[caption id="attachment_32579" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="This image provided by the U.S. Naval Research Lab shows Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines. Pic: AP."][/caption]

The summer of cricket started in Australia, with the first of the Ashes test series held at The Gabba in Brisbane. The famed clash between Australia and England brings in thousands of tourists from other cricket loving countries, including the famed Barmy Army, supporters of the England side. Read more.


The Desolation of Smaug, the second in the Hobbit trilogy, is released on December 13, perhaps heralding a new wave of tourism to New Zealand. With that in mind Air New Zealand releases a new video about life in Middle Earth titled "Just another day in Middle-earth" and has a dragon painted on the side of a 777.

Do you have a travel moment of 2013 to share? Add your comments.

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Top travel moments of 2013

Top travel moments of 2013
December 6, 2013 - 0 Comments - Jo Lane

FROM the anniversary of the Everest climb to airways that charge per weight, the release of films that put tourism on the map and lots of travel awards, 2013 has brought a range of tourism experiences to the Asia-Pacific region.  January Qantas Airways passengers between Cairns and Port Moresby watched a large python clinging to…>

Getting out of Seoul: Five other places to visit in South Korea

Getting out of Seoul: Five other places to visit in South Korea
November 20, 2013 - 0 Comments - Casey Hynes

HIGH-SPEED internet, Starcraft, and a population that looks like it’s largely composed of gorgeous future K-pop stars – yes, Seoul, South Korea, has a lot going for it. You can’t visit this cool country without a stop in the capital, a fascinating city that has emerged as one of the biggest and most advanced in…>

In pictures: Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival

In pictures: Jinju Namgang Lantern Festival
October 6, 2013 - 0 Comments - Ben Cowles

FROM October 1st ~ 13th hundreds of spirits, soldiers, and denizens from Korea’s past emblazon the night in the small fortified city of Jinju.   The Namgang Lantern Festival (진주 남강 유등 축제) is held every autumn in the small (for Korea) city of Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province. The festival not only commemorates the city’s great victory in the Imjin war,…>

Beyond the DMZ: You too can visit North Korea

Beyond the DMZ: You too can visit North Korea
September 16, 2013 - 7 Comments - Ben Cowles

THE Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: a socialist paradise guided by the hands of the eternal president Kim Il Sung… or an Orwellian state of impoverished people oppressed by the whims of the world’s only communist dynasty. Well, it might surprise you to know that you don’t have to be an ex US president, a…>

Finding fun, sun and serenity in Asia this summer

Finding fun, sun and serenity in Asia this summer
July 11, 2013 - 0 Comments - Travel Wire Asia

WE’RE edging toward the midpoint of summer, and as is too often the case, those precious months are flying by. Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxation and joy, though the older you get, the more caught up you become in work obligations and social commitments, meaning those chances for soaking up the…>

China-based company promotes North Korea day trip

China flag
May 14, 2013 - 0 Comments - Travel Wire Asia

A WESTERN tour company in China says it has obtained permission from North Korea for Westerners to make day trips into the country from the Chinese border. Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours said Tuesday his company had received Pyongyang’s approval to organize tours for non-Chinese foreigners to the North Korean border town of Sinuiju,…>

SKorea restores capital gate to 14th century glory

SKorea restores capital gate to 14th century glory
April 30, 2013 - 0 Comments - Travel Wire Asia

FIVE years after an arsonist destroyed it, the stone-and-wood southern gate to the old walled capital of Seoul has been painstakingly restored to its late 14th century glory by a small army of master craftsmen using traditional tools. From the hand-carved stones of the walls flanking Sungnyemun gate, to the finely wrought touches on the…>

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